Swan Housing Group Board Members

John D Synnuck

Chief Executive

John has worked in the public and housing association sectors for over 50 years. He is a former Director of Housing for the London Borough of Southwark and Housing Services Director for West Kent Housing Association, the country's second ever large-scale voluntary transfer.  

John has led Swan Housing Association since it was formed in 1994, in which time Swan has grown from 2,000 homes to owning and managing over 11,500 homes in Essex and East London.  John is passionate about customer service and regenerating communities and, as a result, Swan is a leading regeneration agency with over 8,000 homes in its secured development pipeline.  

John is committed to Partnership working, ensuring Swan works with our Borough, GLA, Homes England and other partners to provide brilliant services to our customers and great places to call home.   In 2019 John was awarded the Lifetime Achievement Award at the Housing Heroes Awards.

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Geoff Pearce

Deputy Chief Executive

Since joining Swan in 2014, Geoff has overseen the growth of Swan's regeneration and development programme, progressing long-standing major regeneration projects at Blackwall Reach and Beechwood Village and leading on many new regeneration projects; Purfleet Town Centre, the Queensway estate in Southend on Sea and the Laindon Centre. Swan's in-house construction service has grown exponentially and we have opened our own modular housing factory in Basildon. In 2020 Geoff was made Deputy Chief Executive, taking on additional responsibilities, including property services and strategic planning.

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Valerie Owen (OBE)

Board Member (Chair Swan Housing Association)

Valerie is a multi-disciplinary property professional, a Chartered Architect, Chartered Town Planner, Chartered Surveyor and Chartered Environmentalist who specialises in complex community regeneration and sustainable development projects. She was previously a Director of International real estate consultants, Jones Lang LaSalle. 

Valerie serves on the Boards of a variety of public and private sector organisations including the Planning Inspectorate, the Church Buildings Council, the Defence Infrastructure Board, the East Kent Hospitals NHS University Foundation Trust, the Environment Agency and Hanover Housing. She chairs the Sector Skills Council for land-based and environmental industries and was awarded an OBE in 2001 for services to architecture and to the community in East London.

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Peter Baynham

Group Board Member

Peter is a Chartered Accountant with broad business experience in both director roles and as a management consultant in leading UK and international organisations. He has experience in both the public and private sector.

Peter's sector experience includes property, service companies and health care. Peter was most recently a partner at Mercer and headed their Corporate & Private Equity M&A for the UK and the Middle East.

Peter also holds several other non-executive roles in not for profit and commercial organisations.

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Steve Akeju

Group Board Member

Steve Akeju is the Senior Executive Manager for Telereal Trillium, working on £6bn portfolio and brings his experience of generating shareholder value from asset base as well as delivering development projects including the sale of investments and residential development sales.

Prior  to taking on the role with Trillium in 2005, he held a senior role at Tesco PLC / Spenhill Development as a Development Executive where he was responsible for advancing mixed use developments from acquisition to investment sale, store opening and disposal of residential assets in the London and South East area. Steve reported to the property board on all matters relating to sites, assets and stores in the area. He also has over 10 years sector experience with his last role as Development & New business Director at Horizon Housing Group.

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Elizabeth Sipiere

Board Member (Independent, Swan Housing Association)

Elizabeth Sipiere joins us as a digital professional with a wealth of experience gained from a career in commercial businesses.  She has used digital solutions to deliver customer value and business transformation. She has been a board participant for 17 years, with Private Equity and Public Listed Companies both as an Executive and Non-Executive Director.

Elizabeth was recently NED and COO of Brady plc (energy software and data), CEO of Valueworks (SaaS for maintenance and repairs in social housing), as well as executive roles in several technology companies including Global Head of Capital Markets at Hewlett Packard. Currently Elizabeth is advisor to two software companies and non-Executive Director at another. Elizabeth has a BSc and MSc from the London School of Economics.

Elizabeth is technology and transformation focused and brings to Swan digital strategy 'know how' and a strong commercial, financial and governance focus.

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Devan Bala

Board Member (Independent, Swan Housing Association)

Devan is currently part of one of the UK's largest student accommodation providers, where he is responsible for all the Group's corporate finance matters. Prior to this Devan headed all capital markets activity for GLP in Europe (a US$66 billion global investment manager) and has also worked for Centrus Advisors, an organisation that advises on debt, derivatives and corporate finance to several sectors including social housing.

Devan is also a member of the Group Treasury Committee responsible for capital management at Riverside - a large housing association based in Liverpool.  

Devan brings to Swan over 15 years of capital markets and real estate experience which has consisted of investor relations, strategy, debt raising and risk management, securitisation, M&A and equity management.

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Jane Bristow

Board Member (Independent, Swan Housing Association)

Jane is currently a Crown Representative at the Cabinet Office for the facilities management sector. She has over thirty years’ experience of working in hospitality, services and supply chain sectors across private and public clients in the U.K. and Internationally .

She started her career at Whitbread where she gained extensive experience of multi-site retail and marketing operations and subsequently supply chain including procurement, warehousing and distribution. More recently at Sodexo, Jane’s responsibilities included the development and management of student accommodation portfolios for both University and private clients. She was CEO Schools for the UK & Ireland, Benelux and Nordics and a member of the worldwide Schools Executive Committee.

She also is a Senior Ambassador for the Imagine Campaign at Reading University and the Chair of the Danes Multi Academy Trust.

Jane brings to Swan consumer focus and insight, commercial acumen and operational experience.

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Simon Harden

Independent Board Member (Chair, Swan New Homes)

Simon Harden joins us straight from his Director role at WSP Group that he held from 2014. Simon’s role was to lead the retail sector, which includes all the master planning and infrastructure for new mixed-use developments in the UK and overseas. His multidisciplinary team of around 80 professionals, had a consultancy fee turnover of £12M.

Prior to this Simon was PLC Director 2007– 2014 at Waterman Group, with Director responsibilities for International operations as part of strategy to grow overall business to £200M and international business to 40% turnover.

Simon offers experience from managing major projects in UK and overseas, including the Bullring in Birmingham - a 200,000 sqm retail development described at the time as the largest urban regeneration project in Europe, and as lead consultant on Al Muneera at Al Raha beach - a 550,000 sqm mixed use development in Abu Dhabi, and the design and construction of the largest opening bascule bridge in China in Tianjin.

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Pat Billingham

Board Member (Independent, Swan Housing Association)

Pat is an experienced non-executive director with a mixed portfolio across a number of sectors including plc and regulated businesses. She has a range of previous Board Chair, Audit Chair and Committee experience. Prior to building her NED portfolio Pat had a successful executive career as a tax specialist, including 17 years as a partner at EY where she held business leadership roles within the firm and advised multi-national and FTSE 100 clients on international and domestic tax strategies, outsourcing and transformational change. Pat has a strong commitment to diversity and is an experienced coach and mentor.

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